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Cat Ba Island
travel guide

Cat Ba Island Introduction

| 30 Jan 2012
Last updated 30 Jan 2012

Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the Halong Bay archipelago and the only one that hosts a substantial settlement. The fishing community at Cat Ba town has been transformed by travellers during the past decade as the island has become a summer favourite with domestic tourists and a year round option for backpackers and travellers with time to explore less visited parts.

Cat Ba Island's national park, declared in 1986, occupies just under half the island's 260sq km land mass.

Most travellers visit Halong Bay from the north at Bai Chay. This is where the major cruises and day trips operate from. Cat Ba, at the southern end of the bay, gives a slightly less touristed, but ultimately similar experience of the bay's beautiful limestone islets.

Cat Ba is better suited to those with some extra time and an interest in exploring the island and its national park. Rock climbing and other adventurous activities are offered. The island's also good for cycling or motorcycle exploration.

It's possible to loop from Bai Chay to Cat Ba and vice versa and many Halong Bay overnight cruises include a brief visit to Cat Ba in their 3 day / 2 night itineraries.

Cat Ba is renowned for scamming so keep your wits about you. Most of the tourist sights will involve protracted and frustrating negotiations with scamming officials. Rapacious locals can put a real dampner on a visit to one of Vietnam's most beautiful natural spots.

The problem of plastic and other waste that is an increasing scourge across Halong Bay, is also present in Lan Ha bay area around Cat Ba.